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At Dallas ‘March For Our Lives’ Rally, Chanting And Demanding Change In Gun Laws

Bill Zeeble
Thousands of people gathered in downtown Dallas Saturday for the 'March For Our Lives' rally.

In downtown Dallas, a raucous, energized crowd swelled into the thousands Saturday to rally against gun violence in schools. The demonstration was inspired by students in Parkland, Florida -- survivors of last month’s school attack that killed 17. 

Marches also took place across the state, including Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Lubbock and Corpus Christi. Other marches happened across the country.

At the marches, organized by students, high schoolers are demanding what they call common sense gun laws, like tougher background checks and an end to high-capacity magazines. They say they’re ready to stay politically active to assure tougher gun laws.

In Dallas, some of the marchers were even younger, like 11-year-old Audrey Ditzler from Denton.

“We always do lockdown drills more frequently than usual,” she said. “They tell you if anyone comes into the school with a gun to get down and if they shoot at you to get under the desk.”

Audrey says that doesn’t make her feel safer. It scares her. Her grandfather, Mike Lavelle, backs the 2nd Amendment and has owned and fired guns. But he says it’s time for change.

“We have background checks but we have loopholes that need to be closed,” he said. “The bump stocks need to be illegal. AR-15s may be OK for hunting and sporting. But magazines with 30, 40, 100 rounds -- that turns them into machine guns and nobody needs that.”

A little after 1 p.m. Saturday, the crowd began their half-mile march onto Dallas streets.

Chanting, including chants against the NRA, fueled marchers. Watching from the sidewalk, Brett Sherer, here for a convention, praised the marchers for their unity, but disagreed with their message.

“You hear a lot of people saying screw the NRA,” Sherer said. “The NRA has nothing to do with gun violence or the guns themselves. The NRA just helps protect the rights. Rights have been here long before any of these people got here. The rights are there to protect the people. Take away the rights, people have no protection.”

Another visitor, Tamaki Corella, born in Japan, backed the marchers.

“Why does a teacher have to have a gun in a classroom?” she said. “Maybe only in America they think that way. You know what I mean? Gun for gun kind of protection, you know?”

Back at City Hall, marchers heard speakers, like Leunte Dean, who borrowed a famous theme from Martin Luther King Jr.

“I have a dream that our students can walk up to schools and not have a fear of getting shot,” Dean said. “I have a dream that our community will walk down the streets without having a fear that someone will point a gun to them. I have a dream that our politics will finally realize if no one will stand up these students will stand up.”

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.